A lack of self-esteem and self-worth can cause major harm to a person’s life.
Low self-esteem affects how we see ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we engage with the world around us. Feeling like we can’t do something may keep us from trying, stop us from experiencing the best things in life, and even lead to depression.
So, you need to have a proactive approach to self-esteem and make sure you are creating habits that improve self-esteem, not tear it down.
Here are five things that will keep you from improving your self-esteem and living a better life.
1. Not Acknowledging That You Have Power Over Your Self-Esteem
The good news is that self-esteem is learned, not inherited – so low self-esteem can be unlearned, when you identify and fight the culprits that are bringing low self esteem into your life.
As children, the way people treat and react to us has a huge effect on what we think of ourselves.
If our parents, siblings, teachers or classmates are mean and discouraging to us, we might naturally begin to expect that treatment and even think we deserve it. We might inevitably find ourselves seeking it out in subconscious ways.
Those feelings stay with us into our teenage years and even long into adulthood — unless we learn how to change them.
Everyone – I mean everyone – experiences periods of self-doubt. Even people who always seem confident and in control are just better at hiding their uncertainty and fear. They’ve learned a coping skill to manage their insecurity.
Anyone can learn those skills with simple, consistent practice. It begins with recognizing your thoughts and understanding the two forms of self-esteem.
- Global: How we feel about who we are, overall. This improves as we face fears about ourselves and learn from our experiences. Identifying the things that make us uncomfortable and how we react to them helps us change the way we THINK we naturally are.
- Situational: How we feel about what we’re doing at any particular moment. When we make a mistake it’s easy to think we’re just screw-ups who can’t do anything right. When our insecurities are raised we shut down, and we become self-defeating.
Once you understand this, you can better identify negative behavior and thoughts and stop them.
2. Trying to Be Perfect
You may already be familiar with perfectionism. Nothing is ever good enough for a perfectionist, and that is a very frustrating life to live. So why put yourself through that? Do you really believe anyone or anything is ever really perfect? And do you think everyone holds the same idea of what “perfect” really looks like?
Which means that you can move mountains or emotionally harm yourself doing things to please others and it may still not be enough, largely because their idea of perfect is different than yours. Perfection is a sliding scale – there isn’t just one definition of it.
Instead of thinking of perfection as society’s ideal of “hottest” or “smartest” try thinking of your personal goals and striving to make them a reality.
What does perfection mean to you in any given moment? Once you have answered that question for yourself, you let go and accept that you did the best you could in that moment.
Sure, you can think back to past events and regret or be hard on yourself for not doing something better. They say “If only I knew then what I know now.”
Fact is you didn’t, so let go and just focus on doing your best in every moment and know that you did what you could with all the information you had at that time. With this approach happiness is actually a possibility, instead of always being out of reach when you don’t match up with the flavor of the week.
3. Drowning Yourself With Negative Thoughts
Self-drowning is the act of defining your entire character based on a single action.
We tend to do it every time we mess something up – immediately thinking, “I’m such an idiot I can’t believe I did that!”
Mistakes are going to happen. A lot. Learning to accept that they don’t define us, and knowing we can do better in the future can break the cycle that keeps our self-esteem low.
If you focus on viewing each mistake as the opportunity to learn, your perspective on most circumstances will set you free!
There are many ways to retrain your brain from a negative one to a positive one. Creating little reminders all around that you’re perfectly okay just the way you are slowly changes your natural feelings about yourself. Seeing something visually is important. My mother always says “fake it to make it” when it comes to that.
You may write things down that you don’t automatically believe about yourself such as “I’m beautiful” or “I am loved” but you write those things down anyway and you put them where you can see them every single day, preferably a few times a day.
By reading them over and over, your subconscious mind will begin to accept those beliefs and the way you behave and view yourself will automatically shift.
4. Letting Others Treat Us Badly
Like I said, much of how we feel about ourselves comes from how people treated us growing up.
But as we get older, we realize how we don’t want to be treated and we shouldn’t accept anything short of what we want.
It’s incredibly important for our self-esteem that we create boundaries for how people are allowed to treat us.
Letting people walk all over us, and keeping regular contact with people who are disrespect us reinforces our negative feelings.
Identify some ways people have made you feel bad about yourself in the past, and remember them so that you can react differently in the future. Each relationship, friendship, co-worker or family member are in our lives to participate in lessons we share together in an effort for our souls and personalities to grow and develop.
Therefore each encounter is there to teach us what we will accept, want, and/or need.
Use your past experiences to determine your boundaries and draw that line in the sand.
Let people know how they’re making you feel if you believe that they respect you enough to stop any hurtful or disrespectful behavior towards you.
And if that isn’t enough to get them to stop, then you don’t need that person in your life and truly should move on to others who will want to respect you.
The hardest part is realizing the person you thought may want to be better for you, doesn’t, but 9.9 times out of 10, accepting that and moving on is your best chance at happiness.
It can be difficult to walk away from people – especially people we’re close with, like friends or family. But protecting your own sense of self-worth is more important than maintaining a harmful relationship. When the offending person decides to respect the way you’ve asked to be treated, then they can become part of your life again.
5. Being Awful to Those Around Us
Being in a bad mood can cause us to mistreat others. Imagine constantly being in a bad mood because you can’t stand yourself (some of you may know how this feels).
The people that abuse and harm others often have self-esteem issues of their own. That’s one major reason why it is so important to treat others as you would like to be treated. They may be struggling, and need some encouragement.
And helping others is a surefire way to develop a feeling of importance and value.
Helping friends and family, volunteering in your community, or fostering children and pets can give you a huge boost of positivity. Seeing how you’ve made others happy is rewarding, and so is seeing how other people do actually want and need you around.
Improve Your Self-Esteem
To improve your self-esteem, avoid the five things listed in this post and follow the tips. A lot of the things shared in this post can be done on your own. But much like working out, it can be a great help to have someone to guide you and hold you accountable!
Try creating a positivity pact with a friend. When either of you begins speaking negatively, replace that speech with something positive. Or, consider talking to professional. Therapy and counseling can be very effective in helping you avoid these five pitfalls and create habits and mindset that build your self-esteem.
To learn more about Loving Life’s virtual and in-office therapy, please download our intro packet that includes $25 OFF your first in-person or online session.